Algerian Cookies Boussou La Tmssou
‘Kiss it don’t touch it’ melt in your mouth mini ghee (clarified butter) shortbread, dipped in floral orange blossom water and given a liberal coating of icing sugar.
This month MENA Cooking Club are having a break from the norm and baking cookies / biscuits from all around the world. We were given the choice to bake cookies from our own or our husband’s country.
I went with my husbands native Algeria and baked up these boussou la tmssou cookies, a type of shortbread made with ghee then dipped in orange blossom water after baking and given a liberal coating of icing sugar.
Their name boussou la tmssou roughly translates to kiss it don’t touch it and comes from their delicate, crumbly texture which you can kiss – eat but don’t touch – handle too much, as they crumble quickly, both when being shaped and when being handled after their sugar coating. They very much remind me of shortbread. Unlike traditional Scottish shortbread however, boussou la tmssou are different in shape, mine are little cubes / tablets but I’ve seen larger diamond-shaped ones too, made with ghee (clarified butter) not butter (you can use butter if you prefer a milder buttery flavour) also after baking instead of given a sprinkling of caster sugar, these are dipped in my favourite North African ingredient – Orange Blossom Water and given a liberal coating of icing sugar.
For a healthier option if you can buy it, is raw ghee or another option would be to make your own by melting butter (preferably raw) then skimming off the milk solids with a spoon. Make sure if you’re clarifiying your own butter to melt more than you’ll need for the recipe, then after you’ve skimmed you will have at least 100g. Also unrefined icing sugar is an healthier option too, although I haven’t tested it with this recipe.
I’ve made these cookies twice and adapted my recipe from the Orang Blossom Water blog. The first time I used butter instead of ghee, all white flour, no vanilla and made them slightly bigger than 4g, the dough was very hard to bring together, I felt it needed more liquid so I added orange blossom water but looking at it now, more butter would have done a better job.
The second time of making, I added the seeds of half a vanilla pod when making the dough, as I think vanilla and orange blossom work so well together, used half white and half whole wheat flour (in Algeria they would typically use only white flour, you can too if you like) to make them a little healthier (still they aren’t ‘healthy’ as is any sweet, if eaten in large quantities), made the cookies a mere 5 g each, before giving up half-way through the dough and pressing the rest into a cake tin! and lastly I changed the cooking temperature and time – the original recipe goes low and slow, I changed to moderate and fast.
These Algerian cookies are very similar in taste as Tcharek (minus the filling) and would be very nice for EID or during Ramadan evenings when you want to eat something sweet but small with your evening tea or coffee.
Algerian Cookies Boussou La Tmssou
- 105 grams white all purpose / plain flour
- 105 grams whole wheat all purpose / plain flour
- 30 grams icing sugar
- ½ a vanilla pod, seeds only
- 100 g ghee, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup (60ml) orange blossom water
- 160 grams icing sugar
- Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4 / 180c/ 350f, place rack on middle shelf.
- In a bowl, combine flours, sugar and vanilla seeds.Add melted ghee to the dry ingredients.Mix all the ingredients with your hands until combined and a dough is formed.
- Divide the dough into pieces, each piece equals to 5 grams.Take the piece of dough and roll into a ball. Use your thumb and index to form the balls into a shape similar to ice cubes.
- Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes or until the Remove from the oven and keep on baking sheet and allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Dip the cookies in orange blossom water one at a time, make sure that all side are dipped in the blossom water. Be quick, cookies should not stay for long time in the orange blossom water, just dip the cookies for one or two seconds and immediately remove them. Immediately transfer the cookie into a bowl filled with powdered sugar, and with your hands cover the cookie with powdered sugar, all sides must be coated with powdered sugar, you can allow them to sit in the sugar for a minute or two before removing and transferring to a serving dish/plate if serving immediately or an air-tight container for storage at room temperature.
you may need more ghee depending on the quality of your flour, climate etc.
The shortbread dough in the tin, I pricked with a fork and baked for 15 minutes. Once it came out of the oven I cut it into pieces then allowed it to cool in the tin. Once cooled I spread an icing 3/4 over the shortbread and sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds. The icing made with the remaining icing sugar leftover from coating the mini shortbread and a little of the leftover orange blossom water.